Lead author Albert Espelt of the Public Health Agency of Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues based their findings on health surveys conducted by the Public Health Agency in Barcelona since 1982.
"These are representative of the non-institutionalized population living in Barcelona," Espelt said in a statement. "We saw differences in limitations according to socioeconomic position, which remained steady over the course of time."
The research team interviewed 4,244 people age 64 and older -- 893 in 1992, 2,140 in 2000 and 1,211 in 2006.
The study, published in the Journal of Women's Health, found the prevalence of disability in people age 64 and older increased among women, but not among men. The prevalence of disability in 2006 was 30 percent among men and 53 percent in women.
"The double burden of work that women experience throughout their lives -- domestic work and work outside the home -- is a key factor in explaining this difference in different studies," Espelt added.